Business Productivity

Six lessons I learnt from business failure

- May 6, 2014 2 MIN READ

After a 30 page business plan and six months of work, my business was destined to succeed, right? Wrong! Here are the lessons I learnt.

I can laugh about it now, but at the time I wasn’t so happy. What I hadn’t realised is that it wasn’t my business that had failed, it’s what I’d done that had created failure. 

Here are six lessons I learnt: 

1. Set your goals (and make them worthy of passion!) 

While I had a business plan and ideas, I didn’t have clear goals about exactly what I wanted to achieve. So when I hit my first failures, I started backing away instead of revisiting my goals and pushing through. 

I also learnt that I’m not a beetle and therefore don’t need to set beetle-sized goals. I can set big, exciting ones! 

2. Get attention 

When my website went live I thought everyone would magically come. They didn’t. I learnt that customers are not puppies, willingly wagging their tails and rolling at your feet. They’re more like cats, demanding you approach them, winning their attention. 

We are in competition with lots of noise. We’re in competition with: people’s daily activity, our competitors’ activity, social media and more. It’s our responsibility to make people notice us. Do this by optimising your website, following key people on twitter and posting your own content often. Take consistent action to get attention. 

3. Give to receive 

I struggled with giving away free things, thinking it would be a waste of time and detract from revenue. I now realise that providing selected free things can in fact enhance credibility and increase sales. 

For example, if you sell wedding goods, why not write articles or make videos about wedding planning? This will increase your credibility and sell your services. 

4. Execute, execute, execute

The final nail in my coffin was my six month business planning and site development timeframe. While planning is important, it’s also a source of procrastination. I would have been far better off doing a few days of planning and just starting. I could have created the first version of the site and then made iterative improvements based on feedback. 

5. Fail 

Honestly, I learned more from my failure than I would have from succeeding.

Don’t be afraid to fail, as long as you learn. 

6. Do it now 

Why are you reading this article? Are you stuck for ideas? Are you hesitant to take the leap to start your business? Not getting the traction you want with your existing one? All I can say is, gather your ideas, muster your energy, make no excuses and act now. 

I hope you’ll learn from some of my mistakes. While they were frustrating at the time, they provided some valuable business lessons. 

What lessons have you learnt from starting your own business?